Chronological Building Blocks: Radiocarbon Dating and Archaeological Studies in South Asia

Kennesaw State University, U.S.A.

Since the development of radiocarbon dating over seventy years ago, archaeologists have used the technology to date hundreds of sites across South Asia. Collectively, the body of dates allowed scholars to develop chronologies that had only previously been known through pottery sequencing. In recent years, the use of this methodology has increased, allowing us to further refine and adjust regional chronologies. Additionally, new advances in radiocarbon dating methodology, including the release of the IntCal 20 radiocarbon calibration curve and the development of Bayesian modeling as an archaeological tool, present an opportunity to further update and refine regional chronologies in South Asia. This paper will discuss the many success stories in South Asian radiocarbon dating, present trends in data collection, and propose future directions for focus and application. It will also highlight the importance of well-defined chronologies in addressing broader questions about the past related to social, economic, and political networks, environmental changes, and the development and adoption of new technologies.